KUALA LUMPUR (March 11): Maybank Investment Bank (Maybank IB) maintained its 'neutral' rating for the plantation sector, and said the sector had played its part in ensuring food security, job security, and health security not just for the nation, but the world over during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a sector update on Monday, the research house said despite rising cost challenges and falling output, the sector still made huge monetary contributions of more than RM23 billion over the past four years in various forms of direct and indirect taxes, and contributions.

Maybank IB said that between 2020 and 2023, the plantation sector contributed approximately RM6.1 billion in windfall profit levy, RM3.7 billion in export duties, RM1.3 billion in Malaysian Palm Oil Boar cess, RM200 million in prosperity taxes, more than RM6 billion in Sabah and Sarawak sales taxes (Maybank IB’s back-of-the-envelope estimates), and easily more than RM6 billion in corporate income taxes and individual taxes (by the smallholders) to the Malaysian government for a selected list of corporates.

“The sector is said to be among the highest tax contributors in terms of total taxes (including the windfall profit levy, export duties, Cess, and Sabah and Sarawak sales taxes, in addition to corporate taxes),” it said.

Maybank IB said palm oil holds more than 50% market share in the global vegetable oils trade.

Hence, the research house said its continuous availability is crucial to global food security as well as health security.

It said throughout the pandemic, palm oil exports never stopped, as the government allowed palm oil cultivation to proceed.

“Besides food use, the continuous availability of palm oil and palm products also meant there were the much-needed ingredients to make personal cares and cleaning products, such as hand wash, soap, laundry detergents, hand sanitisers, etc, which the world desperately needed in its fight against the highly infectious Covid-19 virus,” it said.

Maybank IB highlighted that during the pandemic, the plantation sector was among the few granted special approval by the government to operate.

It said social distancing at the workplace was inherent in the estates, given that one worker typically covers more than 10 hectares of estates, providing a naturally safe working environment.

The research house said that at the height of the pandemic, outsiders had limited access to the staffs’ housing quarters and estate operations to ensure the safety of their workers and families.

“While country borders were mostly closed initially, guest workers remained employed throughout, and were paid decent wages (plus incentives) that allowed them to repatriate the much-needed income to provide for their families back home (presumably equally affected by the pandemic),” it said.


Sumber : The Edge Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Chan Foong Hin today clarified that the Facebook account under the name 'Chan Foong Hin' does not belong to him.

He said it was a fake account created by irresponsible individuals and called the public to help report the account on the platform.

"Please note that I have only one FB page (with a verified blue tick) and one FB personal account 'Foong Hin Chan'," said Chan.

"There's no such position called 'Deputy Prime Minister of Plantation & Commodities' too," he added.

Meanwhile, checks by New Straits Times on the fake account showed that the alias used is @chan.foong.hin.2, and the profile has zero friends.


Sumber : New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: After years of fighting tooth and nail, Malaysia has made its stand clear by winning the ruling and ensuring palm oil-based biofuel is removed from the European Union's (EU) trade restriction, said industry experts.

The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) decision generally in favour of Malaysia is "huge" given the discrimination against palm oil while other similar products available in the EU market are not subjected to similar restrictions.

This is important in safeguarding biodiesel producers and the economy overall, experts added.

"Malaysia can now market biofuel to the EU in wider capacity without being subjected to any form of discrimination with the prospect for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and marine biofuel requirement is growing," an industry expert told Business Times on condition of anonymity.

Malaysia will also be able to promote and educate the EU further on palm-based biofuel.

Now with the WTO overseeing things, it will become easier for Malaysia to challenge any unnecessary rules or limits imposed by the EU, making global trade fairer for everyone, said the industry expert.

"Local biofuel producers may safely increase production and market more to the EU, which means we can expect palm-based biofuel consumption to grow gradually," he added.

But the EU being allowed to keep rules on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), Malaysia may need to work further to manoeuvre safely in order to ensure palm-based biofuel is accepted fully.

Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani had on Wednesday said the WTO panel had on March 5 issued its final report and concluded that the EU's renewable energy policy, which restricted palm oil biofuels, was discriminatory.

"This ruling from WTO demonstrates that Malaysia's discrimination claims are justified. This vindicates Malaysia's pursuit of justice for our biodiesel traders, companies and employees," he said.

Cargill Malaysia senior merchant Cassendre Lau said the ruling on EU's biofuel policy could positively impact Malaysia's palm oil industry, as it is a major producer of palm oil used in biofuels.

"If the policy is deemed discriminatory, it could potentially open up more opportunities for Malaysian palm oil in the EU market. However, the extent of the impact would depend on the specifics of any changes resulting from the ruling and how they affect trade relations between Malaysia and the EU," she added.

Malaysia, a major palm oil producer, had in January 2021 requested WTO dispute consultations with the EU over measures adopted by the bloc and its member states affecting palm oil and palm crop-based biofuels.

"If the EU conforms with its WTO obligations, you may see changes in trade policies, tariff structures and regulations to align with international standards," said Lau.

This could lead to increased market access, fairer trade practices, and potentially more opportunities for businesses within the EU and globally, she added.

On the contrary, Singapore-based RaboResarch Food and Agribusiness senior analyst Oscar Tjakra said it is still too early to comment on this ruling as they do not know whether the EU will appeal against the WTO panel report.

"If the EU decides not to appeal against the WTO panel report, the EU will need to make adjustments to EU Delegated Act, but need not to change the RED II legal framework. We will need to see details of these adjustments to analyse the impact of this ruling," he told Business Times.

Meanwhile, in an interview with FMT on Thursday, Johari said Malaysia had won key parts of its dispute with the EU over the latter's renewable energy directive known as RED II.

Putrajaya was also successful in challenging several measures maintained by France, Johari added.

He said a three-member panel had ruled that several measures undertaken by the EU and France were "inconsistent with WTO rules".

Particularly, restrictions like the "high ILUC risk cap" and "phase-out" regulations violated trade agreements aimed at preventing unnecessary trade barriers, he told the portal.

The panel also noted that other similar products available in the EU market were not subject to the same restrictions.

"The EU and France must now bring their measures into conformity with their WTO obligations," he added.

Malaysian Palm Oil Board director-general Datuk Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir echoed Johari's statement. 

"The ruling highlights the EU's restrictions' inconsistency with WTO rules. This affirms Malaysia's persistent efforts to advocate for the sustainability of the palm oil supply chain.

"Anticipating the EU's obligation to conform to WTO rules, amendments to the EU's renewable energy policy are expected."

He said the board would monitor the EU's regulatory changes to align with the WTO's findings, fostering fair trade practices and recognising Malaysia's contributions to sustainable palm oil production.


Sumber : New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The Plantations and Commodities Ministry will discuss with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to include Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification alongside Halal certification as a requirement for marketing palm oil.

This, according to its minister, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, is due to the fact that Halal is a globally recognised and authoritative certification in Malaysia.

"Through MSPO, it encompasses the environment and where they can find out how the palm oil process goes until it is bottled.

"It also covers the condition of the palm oil plantation, the management of the plantation, the use of very high standards and whatever chemicals are used are safe for the product to be produced."

Hence, Johari said, the MSPO could prove to consumers that the product was not only assuredly clean, but also of high quality and safety.

He said previously, palm oil sold in the country had to be Halal-certified, irrespective of brand, and wanted MSPO to be included in the certification requirements.

"That's why if possible, we want to impose conditions on palm oil products that are marketed in the country to have an MSPO certification before they can be distributed here.

"Ideally, palm oil products sold in all stores and supermarkets in our country must have the MSPO certification," he told reporters after launching Saji's new cooking oil label with the MSPO logo and signing of a strategic collaboration between MSPO and FGV Holdings Bhd.

The MSPO certification is Malaysia's national certification standard and was developed with input from stakeholders in the palm oil industry.

The certification, first launched in November 2013, was officially implemented on a voluntary basis in January 2015 with improvements throughout the year.

Recently, the certification was revised last year with stricter standards, including a deforestation deadline of Dec 31, 2019, which meets the deadline of the European Union (EU) Deforestation Regulation.

Other revisions included the identification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their reduction monitoring plans, the introduction of new guidance on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the protection of human rights defenders and whistleblowers.


Sumber : New Straits Times

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 29 — Stability is key to a country’s economic development journey, and in a pluralistic society like Malaysia, unity is a critical element to enable the people to live and work in peace, said Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani.

He said that political stability is highly needed, with the concept that the various political parties in the country with their own agendas and ideologies cannot hinder national economic growth.

“Unity cannot be seen in a silo. If the various communities are only concerned about their respective communities, many differences will arise,” he said during a Madani discussion session entitled “Unity Aspirations Strengthens the Bumiputera Agenda” at the Bumiputera Economic Congress (KEB) 2024 here today.

Touching on national economic statistics, Johari said that bumiputera make up 70 per cent of the country's population but their corporate equity ownership stands at a mere 18.4 per cent.

The bumiputera poverty rate is also the highest at around 7.9 per cent.

As for bumiputera who venture into business owing to poor job opportunities or lack of educational qualifications, Johari said some are not ready to become entrepreneurs.

“They are not ready, but some have been given many government contracts, so the concept of ‘Ali Baba’ emerged, as the contracts given to them were passed along to non-bumiputera to gain quick profits.

“(To counteract this,) access to quality education is the first step, so that the bumiputera community is not left behind,” he said.

Commenting on the economy and entrepreneurship, Johari said Malaysia could not run away from the concept of unity; without it, it would be difficult to develop the country’s economy.

In his view, government assistance alone would not have a significant impact on the bumiputera economy as the community also needs to help itself by increasing its entrepreneurial knowledge.

Meanwhile, on the problem of “Ali Baba” entrepreneurs, he proposed a database be set up and monitored by the government.

He expressed hope that this would be one of the KEB 2024 resolutions, as it would help in addressing gaps in implementation.

“Without this database, we will continue to make the mistake of giving opportunities to the wrong people, who are not real entrepreneurs.

“If the banks have a Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) and the private sector uses the Credit Tip-Off Service (CTOS) to verify, the government also needs to establish (a platform) for the same purpose,” he added. — Bernama


Sumber : Malay Mail